It’s a BIRD!!!
It’s a PLANE!!!!
(Whoops… Wrong story! Try again…)
It’s LIVING IN FAITH TOGETHER!!! (a.k.a. L.I.F.T.)
L.I.F.T. is coming to Good Shepherd, starting on March 10th at 9:15 a.m. in the Sanctuary! L.I.F.T. is a newer model in Lutheran congregations of a way to do Faith Formation/Education and Worship by combining the two. The technical term for this that Pastor type people (like myself!) have been using is EduWorship. But EduWorship may not mean much to the non-Pastor type folks, so we are going to call Good Shepherd’s version of this Living in Faith Together or L.I.F.T.
Why are we trying this model? One of the things that our Christian Education and Youth Ministry Team have been aware of for quite a while is that our “traditional” model of Sunday School has not been working well for our young families. Our young families need us to try a different model of Faith Formation, AND they are also aware that there are a number of folks in our congregation, including our young family members, who are hungry for a different, more contemporary style of worship. We believe that L.I.F.T. will meet both of these needs.
L.I.F.T. will be one hour of both worship and learning for BOTH children and adults. At least 25-35 minutes of this weekly event will be interactive learning about God, Faith, and the Bible. It will also be worship. There will be scripture reading, prayers, songs, and the Sacrament of Holy Communion every week. Parents and children and other adults who wish to attend will learn and worship together.
For those of you who have not been aware of the “behind-the-scenes” activities, you need to know that this is not a “sudden” decision nor one that was made without a lot of long, hard discussions by our Christian Education and Youth Ministry teams. This has been a FOUR YEAR conversation – FOUR YEARS of recognizing a need for change, trying to tweak the “traditional” Sunday School program, and reviewing and discussing case studies of other models of faith formation. It was four years ago in 2015 that my Continuing Education focus for the year was a seminar that explored new faith formation options that other Lutheran congregations were using.
After 4 years of consideration, the Christian Education and Youth Ministry team of our congregation is COURAGEOUSLY stepping forward in faith to lead us in a new venture, one they hope will both pass the faith on to the next generation AND build the faith of adults in our community.
Why do we think this will work?
- Research consistently shows that Faith Formation in children happens most effectively when children are learning with and from their parents. In other words, having children and parents learning side by side works.
- Solid Faith Formation and Lifetime Worship Habits are built most effectively when children regularly witness their parents investing time in worship, prayer, and faith development. If a child sees a parent regularly reading from the Bible throughout childhood, a child is significantly more likely to read the Bible themselves, both in childhood and adulthood. If a child sees parent pray regularly or worship regularly, a child is significantly more likely to pray and worship regularly both in childhood and adulthood.
- If a child attends worship every Sunday from Birth to at least age 10 (with a parent), that child is significantly more likely to attend worship on a weekly basis in adulthood. (Attending worship once a month or less does not form faithful practices in children that carry into adulthood.) If we want children to grow into adults who worship weekly, they need to be in worship EVERY SUNDAY starting at birth.
- The parents of many of our children want a highly interactive and contemporary style of worship. L.I.F.T. will provide this.
What can you do to support this effort?
- Encourage the volunteers who are making this happen!
- Give it a try!
- Recognize that your service may change a bit and BE OKAY with that! For example, L.I.F.T. may become the primary worship service for some families who have attended the 8 a.m. or 10:30 a.m. worship services in the past. This means that while attendance at L.I.F.T. may go up at first, attendance at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. service may drop a bit. BUT if the COMBINED attendance for 8 a.m., 10:30 a.m., AND L.I.F.T. is higher – this is good for the WHOLE congregation.
- Even if L.I.F.T is not for you, invite families with children that YOU KNOW to come and try it! This is basic evangelism, and we are ALL called to build up the Body of Christ.
- Pray that this new ministry will be infused with the Holy Spirit and succeed.
We know that there are risks in trying something new. We may have to adjust L.I.F.T. or tweak it along the way. We may need to try something else that is completely different. But there is a huge risk also in changing nothing. We believe that we are being faithful to Christ’s call by trying this.
Christ never called us to just keep doing things the same way they have always been done. The truth is that the church has had to make radical changes at many points in the 2000+ years since Christ Jesus was born. And the church will have to continue making changes in the future. But we listen. And we pray. And then we step forward in faith. Please join us!
Gracious and generous God, we thank you for the gifts you have given us.
As we move forward to know, live and share your Word, lead us to continue Good Shepherd’s ministries in our church, community, and the world.
God of wisdom and strength, you know us better than we know ourselves. Guide our hearts towards thankful generosity and service.